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  • Writer's picturemichellebetz

Pacific Inspiration

I had the opportunity to put together a session for this year’s RightsCon that brought together four content creators and journalists from the Pacific. Their mission? To share their experiences of covering climate change in the most frontline of frontline communities: The Pacific.

The speakers each have deep connections to the Pacific: Sera Sefeti is a young journalist from Fiji who was a mentee in NPR’s NextGen Radio’s Fiji project. Kalolaine Fainu, director of the Pasifika Film Festival, is based in Papua New Guinea but considers herself a daughter of the Pacific. Thomas Mangloña is based in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands reporting for KUAM while veteran journalist, Floyd Takeuchi, is based in Honolulu, Hawaii though born and raised in the Marshall Islands and working across the Pacific.

For decades, stories have been coming out of Oceania about the devastation brought by climate change. As a particularly vulnerable region, Oceania was not only the first to experience significant changes but also the worst affected with many of the region’s atolls disappearing. Some countries are looking to purchase land elsewhere for their citizens while some have already made such purchases.

The stories are many and our hope through the session was that the experiences of the speakers might provide inspiration for content producers in other parts of the world. We wanted to spark a conversation around the challenges and innovations in covering climate change. The conversation was passionate and at times emotional.

Key themes that came up:

  • Despite the vast distances of the Pacific, the peoples of the Pacific are all connected. The speakers stressed the importance of acknowledging that we are all connected and that Pacific stories resonate with people across our planet.

  • The ocean is of critical importance to us all.

  • Connectivity and access can be challenges in the region.

  • We must make more effort at including local voices – they are the ones living the story every day.

  • Traditional leaders and traditional knowledge play a crucial role in Pacific cultures. It is imperative that we find ways to preserve their knowledge and legacy as we have much to learn from them.

  • Every story is a climate change story.

  • Digital first skills are imperative in today’s storytelling.

  • Reach out to local reporters – those who live and work in that locale every day. They have the expertise and connections that are critical to reporting.

  • Climate stories are not all doom and gloom. There are also stories of resilience, of hope and of moving forward.

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